First step: create a practice Web site. This can be a blog, personal home page, or a hobby site. If possible, start with a new site that has never been submitted to search engines or directories. There's some evidence that using a domain name that has your keywords in it can give you a slight boost in rankings, so keep that in mind. To start, you might want to try optimizing just the main page of your site and see how that goes. Alternatively, you could try different techniques on different pages and see which work best. If you choose a subject you know and love, things will be much easier.
Choose the proper keyphrases. What you think will be the perfect keywords and phrases might not be what people search for.
Learn to create great meta description tags and meta keyword tags. These two tags are important, but not as important as most people think. It's a good idea to create a good meta description tag that uses your keyphrases and is a good description of your site. This is often the info that appears under your search engine listing. The meta keyword tag isn't quite as important. Contrary to popular belief, what you place in the keyword tag will have little bearing on what keyphrases your site is found under. Use this tag, but don't obsess over it.
Learn to create a killer title tag. This tag is critical because it's given a lot of weight by most search engines. You must put your keyphrases into this tag and not waste space with extraneous words. Don't use the title tag to display your company name or for the phrase "home page." Think of it more as a title/keyphrase tag and create it accordingly.
Learn about the extra goodies that can boost rankings. These include alt tags, header tags, link popularity and keywords in the domain and file names.